Figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that the truck-involved fatality rate in 2008 declined 12%, dropping from 4,822 in 2007 to 4,229.
“This achievement is great for all highway users,” said Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). “We must build upon this and look toward long-term improvements. The trucking industry remains committed to safety, and ATA will continue to advance its aggressive safety agenda in an effort to further this outstanding trend.”
In addition to a 12% reduction in crash fatalities involving large trucks, the number of truck occupant deaths fell 16% in 2008, from 805 in 2007 to 677. The overall number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States decreased 9.7% from 41,259 in 2007 to 37,261 in 2008, the lowest level since 1961.
Programs dedicated to increasing the use of safety belts, coupled with new hours-of-service regulations that took effect in 2005, have greatly improved highway safety. The truck-involved fatality rate is now at its lowest since the US Department of Transportation began keeping those statistics in 1975.
ATA’s 18-point safety agenda is designed to further reduce the number of highway-related fatalities and injuries for drivers on the nation’s highways. The group's policies include promoting greater safety belt use by commercial drivers; reinstituting a national maximum speed limit; improved truck crashworthiness standards; speed governing of all trucks; tax incentives for safety technologies; and an initiative to create a national clearinghouse for drug and alcohol test results.
NHTSA’s 2008 traffic safety data can be found at www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811172.pdf.